September is a great time to get away for a final blast of sunshine, not too far from home. Not only have the crowds thinned, allowing you to find space on the beaches and enjoy the sights without the queues, but midday temperatures have receded – perfect for donning walking shoes and exploring rural areas. We pick out the top 5 spots for that perfect last-minute sunshine getaway.
Average maximum temperature: 27C
Visit Sardinia in autumn and you can discover one of the island’s best-kept secrets: Autunno in Barbagia (Autumn in Barbagia). Running from September to December, a series of festivals take place across 27 villages in Barbagia, a mountainous area of inland Sardinia (sardegnaturismo.it). Streets are transformed into markets, local craftsmen hold workshops, locals throw open their doors – and dining rooms – to visitors and walks are held through the hills. Or you can just kick back on one of the island’s near-empty beaches and soak up some sunshine.
Average maximum temperature: 33C
Cyprus’s southerly position means it enjoys a long, hot autumn, with temperatures well into the 30s. While Cypriot resorts are not among the most beautiful in the Med, increasing numbers of village houses are being converted into cottages and inns, many in remote rural areas that – on cooler autumn days – are perfect for exploring on foot. After a day’s romp in the sunshine, cool off with a dip in the sea, still blissfully warm at this time of year; Coral Bay, a large horseshoe-shaped cove backed by steep limestone cliffs and with blue flag status should do just the trick.
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Average maximum temperature: 29C
Just 70km from the Western Sahara, Lanzarote has a more desert-like climate than the Mediterranean, and is at its best come autumn: the north-easterly trade winds – which blow across the island from March to August – drop considerably; the sea, heated by the summer sun, is at its warmest; air temperatures still average around the mid-20s and the tourist crowds have subsided. This is the perfect time to don your walking shoes and trek the island’s volcanic peaks, for example, Timanfaya national park (Fire Mountain), with its striking red and ochre lunar landscape and seismic activity.
Average maximum temperature: 25C
Summer playground of the glitterati, the flashiest seaside resort in the Côte d’Azur takes on a whole new identity come autumn. While temperatures can still reach the mid-20s, most of the crowds are long gone, leaving behind a more laid-back town. Beaches which are usually packed – such as Plage de Pampelonne and Plage des Salins – are blissfully quiet, as are its posh boutiques and restaurants. If it’s the Saint-Tropez buzz you’re after, visit between 25 September and 3 October, when the annual Regatta Les Voiles de St Tropez (societe-nautique-saint-tropez.fr) sees 300 sailing yachts, from all over the globe, compete in a week of racing and festivities – and the jet-set return in throngs to watch.
Average maximum temperature: 28C
Whichever Greek island you pick in autumn you’re likely to find warm sunshine and few crowds. But if there’s one island that is particularly lovely at this time of year it’s Rhodes. Its medieval Old Town is teeming with tourists in July and August. Visit in the autumn, however, and you can have its narrow alleys, lined with Ottoman mansions, and tranquil squares virtually all to yourself. September is also the best time to visit Petaloudes (Butterfly Valley), the island’s most popular tourist attraction; out of season, this lovely green dell in the middle of the island is tourist-free, so it’s the best time to spot the thousands of brightly coloured insects (don’t leave it too late, they only inhabit the valley between May and September).